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How do you find the decision-makers at your prospect’s company? It isn’t easy. Between the gatekeepers and the changing titles, it’s hard to determine who calls the shots, who has the power to decide, and who doesn’t need permission to add to the budget. 

Job titles don’t help. For the past several decades, job titles have morphed as companies strove to attract talent or communicate a connection to current society. Company size also impacts job titles, as does the type of product or service provided. 

Suppose your sales team only searches for specific titles when looking for a decision-maker. In that case, it could miss many viable candidates. 

Profile-Based Lead Identification

So, how can you find the one who can actually purchase your offering? Instead of titles, perform a bit more research before contacting a prospect. If a prospect has contacted you, find ways to identify where in the purchasing hierarchy that contact exists. 

Be proactive. Gather information about the typical companies you want to work with and create a detailed profile of how your ideal customer operates, how it’s structured, and which people tend to be gatekeepers instead of decision-makers. 

Find contact information once you have a shortlist of potential decision-makers within a company. Then use tools to narrow your search using a deep web search and insights drawn from your own CRM.

Once you have determined the true decision-maker, develop your message into a unique selling proposition that applies to the specific needs of that decision-maker and customer’s organization. Relevancy and quality of the message are paramount for reaching a decision-maker and influencing the sale. 

These Are Not the People You Are Looking For

Gatekeepers, influencers, and blockers can all stand between you and the decision-maker. It helps to be able to identify them quickly and shift tactics to get past them.

Gatekeepers often carry a title such as executive assistant or associate of the decision-maker. It’s their job to protect the boss’s time and capacity. They are used to receiving sales calls and creating barriers between you and the decision-maker. 

Instead of trying to bypass gatekeepers, make them allies. They have the decision maker’s ear, so they need to trust you and agree to smooth a way to a sale. Nurture the relationship just as you would with the decision-maker. Ask them questions to gain insight into pain points their organization faces.

Influencers are often junior employees performing research for the decision-maker. Their task is to present all available options and recommendations. They may stall you because they want to see everything you have before allowing you access. 

Don’t dismiss them. They are influencers, meaning they influence the decision-maker and, possibly, the gatekeeper. Provide high-quality, relevant materials to help them make a case for you.

Blockers might look like decision-makers at first, but instead of continuing to engage, they block your calls and stop replying to your communications. This time, it’s OK to go over their heads to a contact you can work with.

Use your conversation with them to identify the actual decision-maker or try other avenues like LinkedIn or a different phone number to reach the decision-maker. Then provide material with enough detail to convince them. Keep looking for alternate entry points if this organization is one of your Zebras.

The Decision Maker

The decision-maker is the one to convert and impress. For many organizations, the decision-maker lives in the C-suite. If you are a technology seller, look for the CTO. The VP of marketing might be another good target.

The decision-maker has access to the budget and buying power. Understand the needs of the decision-maker, which often vary from user needs. Then craft a message that speaks to those needs. Prove you are the ideal solution and show value, not just features. Customize your solution to demonstrate precisely how it will work at the decision maker’s company. 

How do you identify a decision-maker? Ask:

  • Have you bought similar products before?
  • Who was involved in those purchases?
  • Who will be using the product, and will they want to be part of the decision?
  • What do you need to get a purchase approved?
  • What is your role in the decision-making process?
  • How can I help you sell this to your team?

Look for the person who does not need budgetary approval. Provide them with the appropriate information for each lower-level team or individual that person may need to convince. 

Craft your personalized message and cut through the gatekeepers, influencers, and blockers to deliver it directly to the person who can buy your product or solution. Don’t waste your time or theirs on anything less.


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